Fredrik v Matthew Teachable Moment



Here’s a teachable moment from Fredrik and Matthew’s game last night:






First club night at new venue!

Tonight was the first club night at our new venue.

Most nights we are in the hall, which is to the right as you enter the church. But do note on the first Tues of every month we will be in the identical, but kitchen-appliance-challenged left-hand hall due to an earlier booking. I assume once the bookings team understand it is the Taunton Supreme Team of Chess Playing Gods in residence, they will bow before our chess-prowess and let us have the same hall each night, maybe. Or maybe not.

Anyway – here’s some snaps

Plenty of space and light inside, with good sized table and comfy chairs.

New playing hall

New playing hall

Fully kitted out kitchen – including ovens just out of shot!

Kichen area

Kichen area

Games got underway, mainly friendlies, and the first to finish was a nice smothered mate delivered by Steve Smith.

First check-mate at new venue!

First check-mate at new venue!

So the new venue looks good. May we crush all opposition there and grab lots more titles etc..


Somerset Cup Final

As readers will know, the TSToCPG has recently seen a gradual departure of several Gods and might soon need to be renamed TSToCPGaDG as DemiGods step up to fill the vacated places. Of course with all the Gods leaving, this has impacted on our strength/invincibility and other teams no longer cower and tremble in our presence and instead start to harbour thoughts of rebellion, actually believing they may even have a chance of taking us on. The sad fact is, there is truth in that we are no longer what we once were. We know it and they know it.

Which makes it remarkable we made it through to the Somerset Cup Final (yay!)

This was supposed to have taken place last month against Weston-Super-Mare but they fecklessly didn’t turn up as their ringers from various other teams were too lazy to make the effort to travel to the final, thus meaning the team withdrew at the last minute.

Sounds harsh? Well the powers-that-be agreed and issued a statement saying WSM had now ‘withdrawn’ from the Somerset Cup and all their prior games were cancelled/annulled. Hmm… ‘withdrawn’? – sounds more more like ‘disqualified’.

Anyway, this meant both Yeovil and Sedgemoor who had previously lost to the ‘WSM’ team <cough>,  would now player each other, with the winner taking on Taunton. But Sedgemoor couldn’t manage it, so the new final would be Taunton v Yeovil, sometime in May.

Andrew Footner phoned Nick to arrange a date, explaining he would be away between certain dates and ideally he’d like a fixture when he returned. Quite why Nick ignored this Goose laying a Golden Egg is beyond me – he should have jumped at the chance to arrange a date when Footner was away, but he instead, very sportingly, and very un-TSToCPGly, agreed a date of May 17th.

As MikeR has now left the country for his new job, Nick took over to arrange a team – not so easy as MikeR, DaveL, TerryS and BenE are no longer available. Our top players are now MarkH, JamesB, NickW, AlexC, MartinW, JerryK, NigelC and StanW. They were all asked, and all could make it – phew.

This did mean we didn’t have our MikeW board 8 secret weapon, but we’ve survived without his unique skills before and we hoped to do again this time.

May 17th came around and Yeovil turned up with what looked like their best team. I should point out that there technically was a coin toss, presumably for the theatrics, because, as always, Nick was white and everyone else settled in around that.

The games got underway and finished roughly in this order –

First was Stan –

Board Eight – S Gray 0.5  v Stan Wojcik 0.5
No game record here but I vaguely recall Stan was either an exchange up or down, but neither side had enough for a result and was thus drawn.

I think Alex was next –

Board Four – D Freeman 0.5 v Alex Conway 0.5
Alex refused to hand over his scoresheet, saying the game is not worthy of publication it was so dull. Basically, 1. e4, then some stuff, then a draw. Yawn.

Scores still level.

Next could well have been Jerry –

Board Six – Jim Fewkes 0.5 v Jerry Kilby 0.5
Jim is a tough player to beat but Jerry can also play above his grade, so whilst this could have been a decisive game, it wasn’t. Jerry gives the first 20 moves here – he won the exchange, but Jim’s bishops and pawn mass meant he couldn’t press for a win and the draw was drawn after 43 moves…

Scores still level.

I think James was next –

Board Two – Andrew Footner 0.5 v James Byrne 0.5
Andrew played an aggressive opening. James was on the back foot, but never in any real trouble. Eventually the game petered out into a draw. Game notes supplied by James – thanks!

Next was Nick’s –

Board Three – Nick Wilson 0 v F Felice 1
Nick, clearly being influenced by the draw-fest going on around him, played the most boring game ever, and by move 28 the position was dead-drawn. A draw was offered, but rejected by Black, clearly sensing Nick’s lack of interest in the position. It was the smartest move by Black all night, as Nick soporifically drifted from even, to slightly worse, to worse, to much worse, to lost. Appalling, shameful play by Nick. All Black had to do was turn up and bore Nick into losing. Yawns and self-loathing abound.

So Yeovil take the lead, now being one point ahead, with just 3 games to play. But glancing around at the remaining games, it looked like Taunton had good chances in them all, particularly Martin, who looked like he was about to be a Queen up, only to sensationally agree a draw at that point!

WTF?? You don’t believe me – well here is that game –

Board Five – Martin Worral 0.5 v Roger Knight 0.5
These two have a long history of wildish exciting games followed by frantic time trouble and/or terrible blunders. We got the first part of the usual formula tonight and just as the second part was about to unfold, they sheepishly agreed a draw!

So Yeovil still lead by 1 point and just two games left, Nigel and Mark. Nigel looked like clearly winning and Mark less so. Of course should Nigel win and Mark draw, then scores would be level. But then the board score would come into play and we’d lose overall – why oh why didn’t we play MikeW as our secret board 8 weapon!! Would this omission come to haunt us??

Nigel was next –

Board Seven – Nigel Cottle 1 v Nigel Mills 0
Nigel played a solid game and wrapped things up nicely with a well-played end-game.

So Taunton level the scores, with just Mark’s game to play – but this is a must-win game, or we lose due to count-back!

Board One – Mark Hassall 1 v A Batson 0
I don’t have the moves, but by the end-game Mark was material up and had a strong passed pawn. While forcing Black to defend that, White made progress on the other side of the board, forcing the win.

So Taunton clinch the win with a final 4.5 v 3.5 score. Very close match and commiserations to Yeovil.

But congratulations to us – Somerset Cup Champions again!!

The winning 2016 Cup team!

The winning 2016 Cup team!

Well played to all – celebrations will be at our annual Chess BBQ to be held at Nick’s sometime in late August – date to be confirmed!!


Som Cup Semi Final – match report

Yes, although the TSToCPGs are no longer quite so god-like, and no longer causing fear and panic in Division One by mercilessly trampling and destroying hitherto respect-worthy opposition, there still flickers a flame somewhere, and thus we find ourselves in the Somerset Cup Semi Final.

And who dares challenge us? Who fancies their chances against a once great beast?

Glastonbury, that’s who. Well c’mon, lets see what you’ve got?

Actually that’s particularly pertinent with regards to Glastonbury. Regular readers will know pawnstar’s assessment (‘mocking’ – Ed) of that team. When combined with a full strength GM on board one (‘Er.. I’m only playing to make up the numbers…’ <coughs, rubs nose, tugs earlobe etc..>) and a small array of Miffy Wunderkinder with stratospherically accelerating grades, and padded out with Glasto journeymen, they are a force even the TSToCPGs would hesitate to stomp all over without first checking one’s foot placement  – hard and to the groin normally works well, metaphorically of course…

So, we arrived at the club, and all the hens clucked about who exactly from Glastonbury would turn up. We’d already seen some WunderKs earlier this season, but that was a few weeks ago, and since then they could easily be 25-75BCF higher. But then a rumour started spreading. People started checking their diaries. Chins were rubbed and eyes squinted, pointing skywards. Yes. it is half-term week! All the little Wunders will be back home with their Mutters des Erfolgs and therefore it will be a regular (‘Pure’ – Roger Fenton) Glastonbury team. Time to put your best stomping boots on, and Glastonbury had better pray they are cupped properly – again metaphorically of course…

MikeR organised our team and we were at near full strength – players were MikeR, MarkH, JamesN, NickW, AlexC, MatinW, StanW and MartynM.

Glastonbury turned up and as now expected, were hopelessly out-graded throughout.

But two things are important to note. Our legendary over-confidence against Glastonbury caused a deep-scarring 5-1 loss many moons ago. Must.. stomp… carefully..

Secondly, we did not have our MikeW-on-board-8 secret weapon.

Surely these two omissions wouldn’t cause a problem?

We settled down to play and the gladiatorial arena looked like this –


It goes without saying there was a token coin toss to give some supporting evidence to the regardlessly inevitable colour choices. Nick had white, and everyone else settled in around that…

So, as match got underway and the results came along roughly in this order –

First was Stan –

Board Seven – Barry Thorney v Stan Wojcik
I remember first playing Stan back in the late ’80s. He’d normally turn up late (due to work presumably), dash across the room, still suited-n-booted, and then proceed to play dashingly, almost crushing a then baby-pawnstar with Sicilian dragons and Rc3 sacrifices. Little pawnstar would gasp, wide-eyed at Stan’s flamboyant aggression and style.
Unfortunately, tonight Stan didn’t play like that and instead took a leaf out of Robin’s book and succumbed to an embarrassing knight fork, ending the game.

We’d barely finished doing the laces on our DM’s and yet we are 1-0 down – ulp!

I think Alex was next –

Board Five – Roy Turner v Alex Conway
Alex had the edge throughout and won fairly quickly.

Scores level at 1-1.

Now Martin –

Board Six – Martin Worrall v Roger Fenton
Martin played a nice controlled game, winning a piece with a simple tactic, and then wrapped things up neatly.

Taunton edge ahead 2-1.

Next was Nick’s –

Board Four – Nick Wilson v Martin Willis
Nick was graded much higher and was expected to win. His comments – “Felt the game was going in the direction I wanted, but then became aware of people mocking, yes, mocking(!) my 19. Bg5 move. Of course I’d seen the alternative, Qg5, forcing Ng6, followed by Nxe6 and then picking up the g6 Knight, but Bg5 felt intuitively right. Stockfish agreed, saying +20, although I’ll admit I didn’t see the precise continuation after that. And a final thanks to Martin for allowing the mate!”

So Taunton press ahead 3-1. Next was Mike –

Board One – Roger Morgan v Mike Richardt
Mike won without ever being under any pressure – comments from him –

So Taunton lead 4-1. Just need to cross the line… (although any analyticals amongst us will know we’d already won as should Glastonbury get to 4-4 (yeah – right!?), then board 8 would be discounted and we’d then win 4-3. but lets ignore all this to keep the tension slightly longer….)

Oddly enough, the next game was on board 8, with Martyn making his Som Cup debut and bringing the overall count of Martins on the evening to 3-

Board Eight – Martyn Maber v Stuart Marsh
Martyn played a solid game and wrapped things up nicely with a well-played end-game.

So Taunton win, with an un-catchable 5-1 lead!

Still two games in play, both now dead rubbers as they say.

First was Mark –
Board Two – Mark Hassall v Chris Snook-Lumb
This was an exciting double-edged French Winawer game (white invades on K-side, black invades on q-side). Not sure anyone had an accurate take on who was best throughout, but near the end, black’s rooks infiltrated, White lost an exchange, and it was over. No game data here, sorry. (yes I know, we show all Taunton’s flashy wins, and yet losses strangely get discretely hidden…)

So now, Taunton lead 5-2

There was one game still to go – James’s.

Board Three – Tim Wallis v James Byrne
I don’t have the moves, but James was a pawn or two up through-out the middle game and looked likely to win. But towards the end, Tim had got to an equal-looking R+P v R+P ending (although the higher-graded among us would have placed some value on the relative king positions (James was better), it was surely a draw with best-play).
However, the game dragged on, and just like in the quarter-final, pawnstar got bored and went home. Hours later a text came through saying James had won, although I assume via a time-pressure-induced error from Tim.

So Taunton won convincingly, 6 to 2! Here is a photo of the scoresheet before boredom and the prospect of watching a DVRed new series of Happy Valley sent pawnstar dashing for the exit
Time to wipe clean the DMs and prepare for the final. No idea when it is, nor who we are playing.

Well done to all and plenty of time to hone our chess skills prior to the Final in the coming weeks!


Happy Christmas! (and a little present for you all…)

Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas! The club is now closed until Jan 5th for the Christmas and New Year break. Hope you all have a great time and see you in the new year.

In the meantime, here is a famous chess puzzle taken from, but originally posed to Kasparov in the 1980s – he didn’t solve it, but I think he was sat in a car en-route to an airport at the time. The puzzle is as follows -

A game begins with 1.e4 and ends in the fifth move with knight takes rook mate – what are the moves?


There are no tricks, all moves are legal, no extra knowledge or facts needed. pawnstar will be at the club on Tues 5th to see your solutions, or if you ply him with enough cash/beer, he may show you the solution…!



Somerset Cup v Wellington. Match Report

With Taunton no longer really being the TSToCPGs (I can’t bear to type it out in full – brings a tear to my eye, fondly remembering those glory days of old etc…), it means we no longer play in Division One and have to console ourselves with competing in the Somerset Cup.

Round One (or the Quarter-Finals, as I like to call it) is geographically based, and although it was a surprise to see Wellington had entered a team in the competition, it was unsurprising to see we were drawn against them with us being so close.

Unsurprisingly they have changed their venue (chess teams, like lepers or hoards of bored teenagers are always being moved on). Whenever pawnstar hears of a new venue, his mental checklist of ‘bar’, ‘hot barmaid’ and ‘pool table’ springs to mind, hopefully for any new venue. Devastatingly, the new venue is a ‘chapel’, although surprisingly this chapel looked much more like a 1970’s 3 bed detached residential property, rather than a decaying, gothic, buttressed, type place one would normally expect. So no bar, pool or hot bar maids. Had we still been the TSToCPGs, I would blasphemously being saying people could come and worship our play, but I can’t.

MikeR did a good job of rounding up the best team available, this being – MikeR, James, Nick, Alex, Martin, Stan, Nigel and MikeW.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice the strategy of having MikeW on board 8 – this tactic has won us many fine SomCup victories, and much was expected of MikeW again tonight!

Wellington, for all their lack of bars, barmaid, pool tables etc.., do have some of the nicest chess sets we play on (this doesn’t make up for the lack of beer though…)

SomCup colours are decided on a coin toss, and this time only the one toss was needed to ensure Nick got White – glad things are settling down now and the silliness of having to carry out multiple tosses doesn’t seem to have to happen anymore.

Looking at the MatchSheet, we massively out-graded Wellington, and so the game should be an easy win, but things never seem to work out quite like that…

So, the match got underway and the results came along roughly in this order –

First was Mike –

Board One – Mike Richard v Simon Pickard
Mike, by his own admission, was a little over-confident, and suddenly found himself on the defensive in the opening. Black offered a draw, which Mike happily accepted as the position was in Black’s favour. One interesting side note is that Mike shared with us, via his blog, a Jack Rudd victory in the opening, where black put a Bishop on e5, winning the black rook on a1. In Mike’s game, had Black played 11. … Nxb4, then after cxd, black had Bd4, winning a rook in exactly the same way!

I think Alex was next –

Board Four – Chris Barratt v Alex Conway
Alex seemed to have the edge throughout, although not sure if ever was enough for a win. In the end, his trapped knight stagnated the game and a draw was agreed.

Now Stan –

Board Six – DJ Smith v Stan Wojcik
Again, I think Stan had an edge, but not enough for a win.

So, currently all square (and boring draws…). The first decisive game was Nick’s –

Board Three – Nick Wilson v A Stonebridge
During last week’s lightning tournament, Alex told Nick that Nick had missed an opportunity to win a Queen via a discovered attack from a Bishop check. Nick was dumbfounded – had this really happened? How had he missed it? Would the scars run deep? Well, just like if you fall off a horse, you need to get back on immediately, in the next game, Nick didn’t miss winning a Queen via a discovered attack from a Bishop check, and took full advantage… Phew – that particular piece of mental trauma baggage has been unloaded…

So Taunton take a slim lead… only for Wellington to strike back in the very next game –

Board Five – Marin Worrall v Robert Harris
Martin seemed to have a lot of play and initiative during the opening and early middle game, but in his own words, ‘.. went down in a blaze of tactics…”

So back to parity again. Three matches remained – James’s, which at the time looked drawish, Nigel (drawish) and MikeW (chaotic, over g-pawned, etc..). so things weren’t clear. The TSToSCGs never had issues like this…

The next game to end was James –

Board Two – Piet Dobber v James Byrne
This looked like being a close struggle, but James became a pawn up in the end-game and that proved enough for the win! Comments from James.

So Taunton creep ahead – just one more win needed. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, cometh Mike Ward!

Board Eight – AJ Smith v Mike Ward
By move 11, Mike had only his Queen developed. Much later there was an odd extra g-pawn which had made its way there somehow. But Mike played without error and his extra pawns clearly won through. The tactic of MikeW on board 8 gives us a win again. We must never field a SomCup team without MikeW on 8. Never! Well played Mike!

This gave us the overall win – yay!

There was one game still to go – Nigel’s.

Nigel's game

Nigel’s game

I don’t have the scoresheet, but Nigel was a couple of pawns up in the end-game and a win looked secured. We waited ages and ages and ages for the game to finish – i.e. for his opponent tor resign. But it didn’t. So we waited ages and ages more. Still not finished. Sportingly we waited even more. Still not finished. Then we remembered that the final series of Peep Show was on TV, so we dashed off. Sorry Nigel – well played – I assume you won – here is a photo of the game in a surely won position –

Anyway Taunton won, probably by 5.5 to 2.5!

Well done to all and plenty of time to hone our chess skills proir to the SemiFinal in Feb!


2015 Taunton Chess Club Lightning Tournament

I’m not sure how many here are familiar with the phrase first world problems and the subsequent funny, yet embarrassingly trivial problems people come up with/suffer from – e.g. “Oh dear, Waitrose is out of organic humous, I’ll have to make do with their own-brand value range.”. A classic first world problem.

Pawnstar doesn’t shop at Waitrose (although he probably would if there were one in Taunton), and so doesn’t have that particular first world problem. However, one, amongst the many he does suffer from is people who have telephone answer phone messages that chirpily say “Hello….?”, exactly as though a person had answered the phone,followed by a significant pause, and then just as you start talking, the machine then says “Ha! I’m not here, please leave a message? (Yes, f**k you and you stupid answer phone…).

I can now officially add one more item to my list of first world problems, one probably only shared by 10 people in total in the entire universe!

I’m sure everyone can relate however – imagine talking to some strangers in a pub and opening with this – “You know where you are playing in an annual lightning chess tournament held at a small West Country chess club, and you are waiting for the buzzer to sound so you can make your move, and the buzzer does sound and you make your move, only do be told whilst making your move that the buzzer you just heard wasn’t the actual buzzer but an example of what the buzzer does sound like? Arrgh so frustrating and annoying, wouldn’t you all agree?” Terrible first world problem, huh?

Let me move on – Taunton’s 2015 lightning tournament was held at the club last night (Nov 3rd). MikeW was organising it as usual and did a very good job.

The format, as it has been for decades, is an all-play-all round robin type thingy, but the games are limited to 35 moves for each player, with a buzzer sounding every ten seconds, forcing a player to move then. If the game is unfinished at 35 moves, it is adjudicated. Points are awarded – 3 for a checkmate within 35 moves, 2 for an adjudicated win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss.

Other rules include a 3 point win if an illegal move is made and no resigning allowed (part of getting the full 3 points is to ensure a checkmate within 35 moves). You are supposed to move immediately after the buzzer or face a 3 point loss too. Nick probably racked up about 30 points in his game against Mike Watson due to flagrant breaches of the illegal/immediate move rules…! (but in a travesty was only awarded 3 – yes a first world problem for him!)

The ‘buzzer’ is actually a cassette recording played on a mini boom-box that MikeW brought along. For those under 35, let me explain –

cassette – a ​flat ​rectangular ​device ​containing a very ​long ​strip of magnetic ​material that is used to ​record ​sound and/or ​pictures, or a ​machine that uses such ​devices.

Many years ago, MikeW patiently recorded this cassette to be used as the buzzer for the lightning tournament – presumably he sat in a quiet room pressing a buzzer every ten seconds whilst recording it.. Were Sherlock Holmes to attempt to date and method the recording he’d notice the absence of any Dolby B or C (its very hissy), its old (can you even buy cassettes anymore?) and its been used a lot (quite muffled and quiet). So all this would point to maybe late 1980’s, but in a sudden, dramatic development, around move 20 or so, you can clearly hear the de-dela-de,dela,de,dela,de of a mid 1990s mobile phone signal interfering with the device. So looks like its about 20 years old…

And yes, the tape has an ‘example’ buzz at the start, before the actual first buzz, and yes, even after 20 years this still catches everyone out. Even after ten games on the same evening, people got caught out. Who said chess players are intelligent?

Ok, on to the chess – being a lightning tournament, no games were recorded. Most went according to form, and with a few rounds left, Nick, leading by 1 point, was due to play Mike. After 35 moves, the game was unfinished. Nick was a deliberate exchange down, given to achieve some initiative and a strong bishop. but Mike had defended well. How to adjudicate this? Mike was material up but not won yet due to the early nature of the game and also due to the slightly better activity Nick had. Sportingly he agreed to a draw, which almost certainly handed the title to Nick (Nick says thanks, btw..). Just to balance things out, Nick was awarded a draw in a round when he was a Q+B v Q pawn ending, so there is an element of karma there.

Anyway, in the end, Nick was the winner by one point, Mike second and James third – both Mike and James have been historical winners prior, with James being the current holder. It was a fun evening, as always, and long may it continue – thanks again to MikeW for running it and putting up with all the groans/complaints as everyone moved after the ‘example’ buzz.

With a new winner, this meant the passing of the baton (trophy) from James to Nick, and Nick, being the true gent said to James – “Oi! Its my trophy – hand it over. Now!”

But there was further controversy – James didn’t have the trophy, nor had he ever had it during his reign.

So where is it?

Terry was the previous winner, and since being handed the trophy two years ago, he has mysteriously disappeared…?

Looks like Sherlock will be needed again!

UPDATE #1 – Terry has been in touch – he doesn’t have the trophy, nor did he ever have it. So the prior two winners have been trophy-less..

UPDATE #2 – Miraculously, the trophy has been found, safe and well. I’ll spare the embarrassment of the person who spotted it lurking on a shelf along with some other junk, but suffice to say, the trophy is safe – here is a picture of Nick, re-united with the trophy..

2015 Lightning Trophy

2015 Lightning Trophy